Canadian investment firm plans to plant trees matching buys in Bitcoin ETF


Accelerate Financial Technologies is planning to match each investment in its pending Bitcoin exchange-traded fund with the planting of thousands of trees.

According to a Friday report from Bloomberg, the Calgary-based investment services company has pledged to plant 3,450 trees for every $1 million CAD — roughly $792,000 at the time of publication — invested in its Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund, or ETF.

The move is part of Accelerate’s aim to have its Bitcoin ETF be carbon negative — that is, removing more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than the energy required for Bitcoin mining and transactions would create. The company claims each major investment would result in the offset of 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

Accelerate chief investment officer Julian Klymochko pushed back against the idea the company’s initiative was analogous to greenwashing, or falsely marketing oneself as environmentally friendly. He said the firm preferred planting trees instead of purchasing carbon credits to label the product carbon negative.

Ninepoint Partners LP is planning to offer a green Bitcoin ETF seemingly similar to that proposed by Accelerate. In May, the company said it would purchase carbon credits to offset the environmental impact of the crypto in its fund.

Many companies in the crypto and blockchain space — including mining firms — have announced solutions using green or renewable energy sources given the concerns over the technology’s potential environmental impact. In May, Bank of America analysts said that Bitcoin’s energy usage has increased 200% since 2019 and is now comparable to that of a small developed nation. Prominent figures in the space including Tesla CEO Elon Musk have also expressed concern about the network’s “increasingly rapid use of fossil fuels.”

Related: Bitcoin greenwashing? Lawmakers want clearer definitions of green energy

The investment firm filed the application for its Bitcoin ETF with Canadian securities regulators in February. Accelerate plans to list the product on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker ABTC, offering units in both U.S. and Canadian dollars.

While the Securities and Exchange Commission has yet to approve any crypto ETF in the United States, Canadian regulators have given the green light to many firms applying for Bitcoin and Ether ETFs in 2021, including offerings from investment fund manager 3iQ, Purpose Investments, Evolve Funds Group and CI Global Asset Management.